New plan unveiled to rebuild Crystal Palace in London


LONDON, Oct. 3 — The iconic Crystal Palace is likely to rise up again in the south part of London, Britain, as a Chinese billionaire on Thursday disclosed an ambitious plan to build a replica of the architecture on the same site.
Ni Zhaoxing, chairman of property development firm ZhongRong Group, told reporters that he would invest 500 million pounds ( about 807.9 million U.S. dollars) to rebuild the Victorian-era, glass-and-steel building after it was burned down some 80 years ago.
“We will make the new Crystal Palace a jewel on the crown for the UK and the entire world,” said Ni, who is also a collector of artwork.
Formerly erected in the Hyde Park as the venue of the 1851 Great Exhibition, the building was moved to south London three years later and destroyed by fire in 1936, leaving only an overground station name to visitors today. The destruction was deplored by many, including the former Prime Minister Winston Churchill who said “this is the end of an age.”
Ni, whose two daughters have studied in the UK for ten years, said he became interested in the building long before learning about its tragic story.
Speaking in the front of the ruins, notably the stone terrace, Ni, a native of east China’s Zhejiang Province, said he has visited the site for a dozen times. “Whenever I visited the ruins, I kept thinking about ways on how to restore the past glory of the Crystal Palace,” said Ni, who was passionate about his plan.
In accordance with his plan, the projected building would be 500 meters long and 50 meters tall upon completion in 2018. The actual construction will start in the end of 2015 and will expected to create 2,000 new jobs.
“It is like a big tree. The closer you stand, the more shade you can get. So it is the local people who will benefit the most from the project,” said Ni, who promised that “Everything should be subjected to the artwork.”
London Mayor Boris Johnson, who attended the launch event, welcomed the plan.
“This was something that stood for the very apogee of Britain’s imperial relic in the middle of 19th century,” he said. “And I think it will be an amazing thing to rebuild it in a different way with the best possible technology as a new cultural attraction.”
Johnson hoped that ordinary people could get involved in the reconstruction by taking part in the process of consultation, and local transport will be improved as well.
Ni’s reconstruction plan has sparked off controversy.
Some people in the UK, including Mayor Johnson, welcomed the plan.
“I was five years old when it was burnt down, and my piano teacher was there that day,” said a netizen nicknamed “shemarch” on the Guardian website. “It would be great to have it rebuilt in its original splendor.”
Another netizen nicknamed “riggbeck” also wrote “Brilliant idea. The destruction of the Crystal Palace was a huge cultural loss, and it’s shameful that it took a Chinese billionaire to make good the loss.”
Others voiced opposition as well. While Ni and Johnson were taking reporters to the site of the Crystal Palace ruins, two local residents were standing in front of the terrace, holding a banner that read “parks for people, not for profit.”
Jessica Cahill has been living in the local community for 20 years. She told Xinhua that a large percentage of the local residents didn’t support the plan and some even got angry.
“It has been burned down 77 years ago, and now the green should be preserved which is more valuable,” said Cahill, “This is a lovely area. We are concerned that the project will bring extra traffic here.”[db:内容2]